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Reach New Heights With Three Simple Questions

In the new year, I hope to spend more quality time with friends and family, get more exercise, eat healthier, work more productively, build more relationships, earn that promotion, land that deal, lead that project, save more money, take that vacation… Sound familiar?

As we near the end of the year and reflect on what was, we have the opportunity to set our sights on the upcoming new year and what could be. It’s a time to hit the restart button and establish new goals or get a second chance at making good on the things we hoped to do a year earlier.

Whether seeking to improve personally or professionally, goal setting is a powerful and purposeful process that can help guide us on our journey. Setting goals to achieve our aspirations is one thing; leaning in and taking action to make things happen and feel good about our progress is another. Remember, it is equally important to establish the “what” as it is to identify the “how.” It may sound simple, but it’s not always easy.

Asking ourselves three straightforward questions can help us turn our hopes and intentions into meaningful and measurable actions so we can work toward our personal and professional goals:

  1. What should I start doing?
  2. What should I stop doing?
  3. What should I continue doing?

To determine what to start, stop and continue, begin by inventorying your abilities and how you see yourself. Reflect on your goals and values and what matters most to you. Seek input and feedback from stakeholders – friends, family, colleagues. Take into consideration how they see you and what matters to them. Reflection on what worked well in the past and what didn’t can be useful to a point. There is much to be gleaned from analyzing missteps and mistakes and learning from them, but don’t get paralyzed in the past. Instead, focus on what you can change and do differently moving forward.

I’ve long been a fan of Marshall Goldsmith, master of Stakeholder Centered Coaching and author of What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. His words of wisdom and experience are inspiring. He emphasizes the value of tapping into the people around us – who we trust and who know us best – and seeking feedforward, an alternative approach to feedback that focuses on future-oriented solutions.

After establishing your start, stop and continue goals, share them with trusted stakeholders. Check in regularly and ask them if they have noticed a change in your behavior and actions. Continue to ask them what you can do new, differently or better moving forward. Continue to keep a pulse and move the needle to meet your goals!

Here at FTI, we encourage team members to use a forward-thinking approach to progress their professional development and career growth. We recently integrated the start, stop and continue questions into our new leadership development program and have incorporated them into upcoming team building and collaboration sessions. What may seem common sense and common knowledge, is not always common practice. We are excited to keep this simple, yet effective and successful approach in practice.

Whether you are committing to a New Year’s resolution or preparing for personal and professional development throughout the year, consider using the three straightforward start, stop and continue questions. You’ll be well on your way to realizing your goals and reaching new heights as your best self!